How Important Is Technology For Knowledge Management?
For the first time in my life, I delivered one hour talk without the aid of a Power Point presentation. No, I did not use any other software to make the slides. Did the projection system break down? No! Did the computer crash? No!
It was a talk delivered to K-Community, a group of IT professional in Bangalore interested in KM. I took the brave decision of talking for an hour without any presentation aid to support my main thesis of the talk – “Technology is not the key for Knowledge Management, we already have enough of it. The key is to build connections among people.”
Till few years back I was a strong believer in use of technology in KM. I sincerely thought that once you have the right technology in place all the KM problems will be solved. However, since then several things happened which forced me to change my conviction. Just go through following points and check if you have encountered similar situations.
- Though you have set up a knowledge repository, you still find that people mostly search the web to get answers to their queries.
- You have set up a wiki but you are having difficulty in getting it populated with useful content. As a result the usage is very low.
- A project team maintains all their project related documents in their VSS (or any other SCM system they are using) and are not interested in adding them in the company knowledge repository.
- You have a mechanism of informing people of what is available in the knowledge repository but people still send email asking for specific documents.
- You are looking for some information and you are not sure where to search, so you ask a colleague for the information.
- You need a specific piece of information about a project executed in the past. You would rather locate any key member of the team ask that person than hunt through the project archive or search the company knowledge repository.
I have done an informal checked many IT professionals and I have not found anybody who strongly disagrees with these points. It may not be their official position because it may be politically incorrect.
So, the moral of the story is that …
… it is much more effective to ask the right person for the information than to search for the information
… in most situation the web is a better source for specific technical information than internal knowledge repository
I am reminded of a lecture by Aaron Tan Dani, who was the the Chairman for IASA – APAC where he made the following interesting points.
- It does not matter whom you know – you know Bill Gates … so what … does he know you
- What is important is who knows you
- It is even more important who trusts you
It is all about building network — and that is the essence of Web2.0!
Technology is secondary. Use it to make it simple to build links among people.